Sunday, May 18, 2014

GIRON, ECUADOR - Hiking to El Chorro Waterfalls


 Now that we're all settled into our apartment-city lifestyle, and now that our apartment is finally completely furnished and decorated (well, almost decorated - I always find something to add or subtract) - we are focusing more on LIVING and RELAXING - being Jubilado!  Our days are becoming more free to do the things we WANT to do and LOVE to do - one of those luxuries being traveling Ecuador and exploring the outlying areas.  I love packing my camera and going to new and scenic places with my Bo.

We decided to take off early Sunday morning for a day outing to a town called Giron.  Because we spend a lot of our time in the city, going away for the day is a real treat.  There are so many places we want to visit and see, and for an hour $1.00 bus ride, we can end up in the most amazing towns and scenic areas - one of the great advantages of living in Cuenca.

Giron is a small town about 45 minutes SW of Cuenca with a population of about 12,000.  I wanted to visit Giron to hike up to El Chorro - a majestic waterfall cascading down a mountain outside of the town of Giron.  So, off we went - wearing hiking clothes and shoes and packing our rain gear and a lunch.  We caught a bus from El Centro to Feria Libre Mercado, and from there we flagged down a bus heading for Giron.  It was a beautiful scenic ride.  The bus passed through the small town of Giron and finally stopped for us at a country road that would take us up to the El Chorro area.  It took us about 2 hours to walk this remote uphill winding road to the entrance of the falls.  The day was sunny and warm with brilliant blue skies, and the journey there was another wonderful experiencing talking to locals along the way and watching the tiny faraway falls become closer and closer each step of the way.

We began our hike early - with the roosters!

Most visitors will get off the bus in Giron and then hire a taxi or van to drive them to El Chorro Waterfalls.  Not us, we like to walk and explore and meet the locals along the way - and we did!  The falls are in view (on the right) but seem so far far away - and they were!

El Chorro seemed so far far away - and it was!!

We were surrounded by lush brilliant green mountains along the way.

Samuel was our first local encounter - a kind and engaging gentleman who was walking towards the town of Giron.   He must have been about 90 plus years old.

We visited for a spell, then parted ways - he hobbled on downhill and we continued our journey higher and higher......

The day couldn't have been more perfect weather-wise.  It was raining steadily during our bus trip to Giron, but once we arrived, the majestic clouds and blue skies graced our journey.

El Chorro began to appear closer the longer we walked.  I love this lush, green, mountainous area of Ecuador - it reminds me so much of Oregon.

Another small community appeared along the way - with a tiny church and quite a few seemingly abandoned houses.

We passed by lush farm vegetation....

......and several locals doing their laundry outside their homes (yes, by hand!!).

The road seemed like it would go on forever - and El Chorro began to look closer.......

We decided to stop and take a lunch and water break......

.......and along came Angelo galloping on his horse, Negro.  We had an enjoyable visit and he readily shared with us all about Giron and the people.  He lives on the higher mountain area near the falls and was heading to Giron for the day.  We said our "Chau"s and parted ways.

It's rare to see two extranjeros walking along this long and winding road towards the falls - even the dogs were checking us out and wondering?????

On the weekends Margarita and Zoila roast chickens and Cuy and cook huge pots full of rice and choclo - which they serve at their outdoor restaurant stand.   We visited them for quite awhile listening to their stories about the area, then bid farewell and continued our climb. 

Ahhhhh, I think we're almost there - I think!

Is Bo waiting for me?  Am I lagging behind?  NOT!  I was taking pictures - en serio!!  Isn't this road absolutely beautiful?

I can hardly wait to get there.  SOON!

Look at that blue sky!  The flowers and lush foliage along the way left me speechless.

I've heard this area is called the "Cloud Forest" because of persistent fog at the vegetation level.  Well, we certainly picked the perfect day for warm, sunny, clear weather.  The clouds were high and moving.

It's always heart-warming to see animal families along the way!

More majestic breathtaking scenery before we finally arrive......

.......to "Al Parador" Turistico El Chorro.  A parador in Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries is a type of luxury hotel, usually located in a historic building such as a monastery or castle. This one is located in the foothills of the cascading El Chorro Waterfalls. Here, we were greeted by a young man, charged $1.00 each (take your cedulas or it will be $2 each), and then given tickets which we could show upon our return from the falls for a free Canelazo - a local drink made with sugar cane alcohol or rum, panela (sugar), and ague de canela (water boiled with cinnamon) - very warming going down.

We're glad we brought our rain coat and rain poncho, and that we had on hiking shoes.  It was wet, muddy, and slippery along the way.  The stair climb was about 5 minutes, and suddenly there it was!!!!

Worth every step we took to get here!

This wooden bridge is the higher area where the wind and waterfall spray and rushing water sound is so powerful! We could barely walk out to the center of the bridge and had to hold on tightly so as not to get blown away.  I couldn't see above and could barely see below.  Yet, just to stand there and get sprayed and wind-blown was a rush!  We didn't stay there long because we were soaked in spite of our rain gear.....

We stayed in the lower dryer area for quite some time - of course I was in my glory taking scenic photographs and basking in the lush green and rain forest beauty.  

We met this generous Ecuadorian family today - Miguel and Aleja, and their daughter Maria and grand children Kelly and little Amy.  They too were enjoying their day at El Chorro and we had such a lovely visit with them.  They joined us below for  free Canelazo drinks where we relaxed and continued our visit together.  Then they invited us to come to their home in Baños on Friday and have dinner with them and later attend an evening Fiesta in their town.  They kindly gave us a ride in their van back to Giron where a bus was waiting to take us back to Cuenca.  It was another fabulous day trip - hiking, exploring a new area of Ecuador, talking to the locals along the way, and making new friends.  Guess where we're going and what we're doing on Friday?  To truly get to know Ecuador's beautiful and loving families is the best gift about living here for Bo and me.

 If you decided to visit Giron's El Chorro, don't forget to wear sturdy waterproof hiking shoes, take rain gear, and plan on a full day to enjoy this lush and scenic area.  You'll be glad you went!


  1. Glenn and I enjoyed Giron and El Chorro on our first visit to Ecuador three years ago. We didn't hike all the way from Giron to the falls like you did (just from the trailhead) but the approach is stunning no matter how you do it. Thanks for the great blog and photos. See you in less than 4 months! Mara

  2. Hi Mara,
    We so look forward to having you and Glenn back in Cuenca - permanently!!! We'll hop a bus together and return to Giron's El Chorro, and celebrate your arrival to your new home. You must be so excited as the clock ticks and your time to be here gets closer and closer. We're excited to see you again.
    Con Amor,

  3. These are brilliant! Oh, my….. This is just one more display of your many talents, the first one being able to make such wonderful heart connections with the locals and what colorful people they are that cross your path! And after establishing that….. snap! Such wonderful, wonderful pics! Even the cows ad puppies oblige! It gives me an adrenalin rush to go and hurry up even more to have mas aventuras en Ecuador contigo y con BO! Tienes un ojo magnifico! Cyclops ? No! You've got a wonderful eye!

  4. Margarita y Zoila are making me salivate all over my computer. I didn't even know I had an ap for smell, but it's coming through! Miguel y Aleja and their family are charming and will be a wonderful encounter……… Señor Samuel reminds me of another little guy in your lives. God is Good!

    1. Hola mi hermana,
      We are waiting for you to get here so we can explore Ecuador together! Thank you for your continued words of encouragement and comments about my photography - you're my greatest fan now. Yes, it's all about the people we continue to meet - and how blessed we are here.
      See you soon so we can pack you faster and get you here soon!!
      Con much amor,


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